For me, the thought of getting my book jacket photo taken was akin to root canal without anesthesia. It's been so difficult that I've had Jeff take shots and this year was planning on having Max take them, but when they did, the shots were grainy. They didn't look quite professional enough, so I bit the bullet and decided to hire someone. In the past, when she lived in NYC, I hired the fabulous Carol Seitz, but I needed someone in the area who was going to be great, sensitive and reasonable, and I wanted to feel comfortable.
I roamed around on line, looking at portfolios, and talked to a few people, but it wasn't until I saw Thaddeus Rombauer's page that I felt a kind of kinship. (By the way, that's not Thaddeus in the shot above. It's a shot he took.) What I loved was that he put emotion into his shots. You felt as if a story was somehow brewing behind the features. And in talking to him, I liked him even more.
The shoot was really easy, and really fun. And because I'm obsessed with creative process, I wanted to talk more to Thaddeus and ask him how he does it, what it means, all the etcs. So thank you, Thaddeus, for the gorgeous shots and for answering all my questions!
When and why did you decide to be a photographer?
It was the day I went to the Boston Museum with my Father to see the Herb Ritts exhibit - from that moment I knew what I wanted to do. I loved the connection he made with people through the use of his camera.
What I loved about the photos of yours was that you put a real emotional quality into your work, as if every photo really is telling a story. How do you do this? Is this conscious?
Photographing someone can be an extremely intimate process and in order to capture an image that I am proud of there needs to be that trust and honesty between us, to capture a true view of who they are in my eyes. Generally, I like to get to know my subject before shooting with them so their guard is down.
Besides book jackets, portraits and fashion shoots, You also photograph architecture. What kinds of things do you look for in shooting a space that you don't with a person?
I look for angles in everything, like in a person’s face; everything looks different depending on where you are standing. I quietly walk around the space and in my mind mark where the shot should be set up and taken. My photographs come from being in the moment and in a strange way letting the space speak to you.
Why do you think people hate to have their photograph taken and what do you do to make things easier?
I feel in general people hate to be judged and photographing someone can really put them on the spot. I find when you let the person know you are human too and have fault, they start to relax and enjoy the process. I put them at ease by telling them a story of my day or talk about something funny or personal in my life. I think this starts to allow us to build a trust in one another and results in better images.
Do you believe that some people really are not just photogenic? Can anyone be made to look better through retouching?
I don’t believe everyone is photogenic; I do feel every person has an interesting face since people are so different. Each time I photograph someone new it’s like learning a language – you might know its foundation and structure – but having a conversation and getting what you want out of it is entirely different. Frankly, I feel photographing just photogenic people is boring – I like different and unusual faces, ones that tell you everything without even a word.